A former Special Forces soldier in the U.S. Army has been charged with assaulting four police officers with a flag pole during the violent Capitol riot on January 6.
Jeffrey McKellop, of Virginia, faces up to 20 years imprisonment after he threw the flag pole at one of the officers, leaving a bloody gash near the cop’s left eye, according to the FBI in an unsealed criminal complaint.
Images allegedly show McKellop wearing a paramilitary bulletproof vest and helmet, with a gas mask – while holding a two-sided Betsy Ross-Blue Lives Matter flag in support of police.
Jeffrey McKellop was pictured wearing a paramilitary bulletproof vest and helmet, with a gas mask with a patch of the Georgia national flag
McKellop was identified by the FBI after the images were released in a ‘bolo,’ or ‘be on the lookout,’ and the agency received two online tips
The FBI noted that a chest patch on the vest contains an image of the flag for the country of Georgia – often referred to as the Five Cross Flag. It was not immediately clear why McKellop wore the Georgian national flag.
McKellop was identified by the FBI after the images were released in a ‘bolo,’ or ‘be on the lookout,’ and the agency received two online tips.
One of the tipsters, who wished to remain anonymous with the FBI, told investigators that they had known McKellop for about six years and described him as ‘a retired U.S. Army Special Forces soldier and a military contractor who, at times, works overseas.’
The second tipster told the FBI that McKellop was a retired U.S. Army Special Forces soldier with whom they had served from 2001 to 2016.
That witness told investigators that they had seen McKellop wearing the same paramilitary gear in a combat zone in 2018.
On two separate security camera videos, McKellop can be seen in the crowd around 1.14pm approaching the Capitol building while putting on the gas mask.
The videos do not appear to have been released by the FBI, which included screenshots in the court document.
Around 2.26pm, he was allegedly caught on video approaching a line of Metropolitan Police Department officers and pushing them back with his hands.
McKellop was pictured on the left side of the video forcefully shoving an officer on January 6
The FBI alleged that McKellop also tried to grab an officer’s riot-control spray while they deployed it
McKellop was recorded pushing one of the MPD officers, a lieutenant with the force, and attempting to grab the officer’s canister of riot-control spray while they deployed it.
He then allegedly breached a line of MPD and Capitol police officers, stationed near scaffolding outside the Capitol, and shoved an MPD sergeant attempting to deploy riot-control spray.
McKellop was then filmed grabbing a third MPD officer by the arm and shoving them out of the way before allegedly confronting an MPD captain carrying a riot-control spray gun.
The MPD captain prepared to deploy the riot-control spray at McKellop and the crowd, when the Army veteran picks up a flagpole from the ground and shoves it into the captain’s face.
McKellop was then filmed grabbing a third MPD officer by the arm and shoving them out of the way
He then allegedly confronted an MPD captain carrying a riot-control spray gun while wearing a gas mask
The MPD captain prepared to deploy the riot-control spray at McKellop and the crowd, when the Army veteran picks up a flagpole from the ground and shoves it into the captain’s face
An MPD police captain is pictured after being jabbed with the flag pole during the Capitol riot
McKellop the vaults the flagpole, ‘similar in fashion to throwing a spear,’ at the police captain
McKellop the vaults the flagpole, ‘similar in fashion to throwing a spear,’ at the police captain – injuring them, the FBI said in the criminal complaint. Screenshots provided by the FBI show the flag pole soaring through the air.
Retired soldiers are often bound to uphold the Uniform Code of Military Justice for the rest of their lives after their service.
Courts have often fought over whether military retirees can called back to service to face court martial under the UCMJ for crimes committed after their retirement.
After several retired soldiers have been charged in connection to the Capitol riot, many have speculated if retirees could face a court martial.
However, legal experts told the Military Times after Air Force veteran Larry Rendall Brock Jr. was charged for allegedly brandishing zip-tie handcuffs during the siege that is unlikely Brock would face a court martial.
In January, the Washington Post reported that the Army is investigating the actions of Capt. Emily Rainey – a psychological operations officer who attended the protest.
Rachel E. VanLandingham, a former Air Force attorney who teaches at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, told the outlet that whether a retired soldier can face a court martial depends on how their service ended.
Former soldiers who retired after at least 20 years of active duty service can face a court martial, though it rarely happens, she told the Washington Post.